A Conversation with Daviea Davis | Local Vocal | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Daviea Davis is a mother and artist who makes mosaics and teaches classes out of her home. She starts her day by yelling "Ugh!" from the front door. She lives in Edgewood, which is fitting, because every day she treads the edge of sanity, the edge of financial ruin, and the edgy, painful/joyful path of creativity.


How do you normally introduce yourself?

In third person. Once in an artist's bio, I wrote, "Daviea Davis sucks her thumb because it still fits."


Is that true?

Sometimes I do under stress. It's so comforting when you crash your car or something.


How did you become an artist?

I would stay up all night making little heads out of pottery. They were candleholders. Then I made pillows one year. I made quilts. I painted naked floating pregnant women. For a while I was painting Haitians. It wasn't an obsession; I just enjoyed painting their eyeballs and giving them little outfits.


What led you to make mosaics, then?

I had two children in a row and lost my mind, because everything with babies is undone repeatedly. You feed them and they get hungry again. Clean the house and it gets dirty again. Forever. Mosaics were something I could do that was not un-doable. It was permanent. I could say, "That's what I did today."


Do you ever get an urge to go back to painting Haitians?

Everyone always asks me, "Are you still doing mosaics?" This is going on 10 years of doing them. Every time I finish a project, I stare at and learn from it. I'm shocked what it turns out like. The scraps of glass are the parts that stained glass artists aren't using, little beautiful subtractions from their pieces reassembled in a totally different way.


Sometimes people hire you to mosaic their bathrooms or kitchens.

Yeah, but no one gets what they want. The creative process is a living thing. I have this brat clause in my contract: Everything mentioned above is subject to change by the artist during the creative process. Every single person gets this look in their eyes like, "I'm going to be the one that gets her to do what she says she's going to do." Then at the end, I say, "See? It's not what you wanted, remember?" And they say, "Yeah, this is much better."


How does your family deal with your creative process?

Everybody's used to me being preoccupied. Sometimes my husband Dave will be in the mood to talk. I'll be on the way to the studio and he'll say, "How was your day?" or some inviting sentence. I'll just say, "What?! I don't know how my day was!" Then he'll say, "Please, go." My family has learned that if it's a big problem I'll help, but if it's just a little blood, nothing needing stitches, then they're going to have to settle it.


How's business?

Sometimes I get work and sometimes I don't. Even if I'm trying as hard as I can, burning prosperity incense and walking around all corners of the house and saying this little prayer my sister told me --


What prayer?

"I now call forth the financial abundance of the Omniverse. I promise to use it wisely. Now COME ON!" But I know this thing: Not every artist is able to make a living being an artist. That's a crazy thought. Still, I just feel like I want to do this. It's so beautiful. I don't know why more things aren't covered in mosaics.

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